Thoughts, rants and commentary of a simple man

2008 – what happened?

Posted on December 31st, 2008 in Personal Messages

Perhaps this post could be titled “2008 – what I remember of it” as it seems as though it was just a few days ago that I was celebrating the passing of 2007 and considering what an awesome year 2008 was going to be. Of course, as things go, 2008 was the year of teh suck. And while there were many cool and happy things that occurred this past year I would have to say that the most memorable things were purely of a fantastically negative type.

I’d love to be able to go month by month and talk about things that happened throughout the year. Seriously, who has time for that (ok, who has time for that who is not getting paid to do that)? Instead I am going to try to recall things that happened throughout this year within my home, my community, my country and the world.

I don’t know about you but it seemed to me that this was one of the hottest years we have ever had. Not hot like the term used in Hollywood. No, hot, like the term used to describe the fires of hell. It was hot. And dry. And as a result we had one of the worst fire storms I can recall this past year in California. Half the state was lit up at some point. So much so that the smoke from the fires were visible by satellite. So much so that the air looked like a foggy fall morning at 6:00 in the evening in July. You could taste the air, and on a bad day, you could wipe off the burnt ash remnants of someone’s property from your car miles away from ground zero.

Gas prices hit an all time high (or at least all time for those that didn’t live the fuel fiasco of the late 70’s). At almost $5 a gallon, many people were opting for public transportation or even not going anyway to save on gas. It was a freaking nightmare, trying to figure out how you were going to feed your family AND put gas in the car at the same time. Sometimes the family won out. Other times it was the car. All the time it was a struggle.

Then something amazing happened. In just under a month the price of gas plummeted from just under $5 a gallon to just under $2 a gallon. That’s right. A three dollar drop in about a month’s time. And it has stayed that way since. I am not sure if I should be trying to stockpile as much gas as I can for the impending increase of prices, but for now I am sooooo glad that gas in down. I can now fill up my Suburban for less than the cost to fill up my Vibe during the high price months. That by itself is teh awesome.

Speaking of my Vibe, this year saw the failure of my Vibe’s motor and my subsequent reliance on public transportation. Given the financial situation of every living soul on Earth, it has been just about impossible to get my car fixed since it dies several months ago. The main bearing went out, and just about every mechanic that I have talked to has said one of two things: replace the motor or rebuild it. No, don’t just fix the main bearing. Fix the entire motor. Crap. This is going to cost me between $2500 and $3500 to fix. I don’t have it. So Bart is now getting all the money I would normally be putting in my car for gas.

As for the economic downturn, the recession if you will, that has had an enormous impact on our family. But not really directly. While we did fall into the credit mess during the boom period, it was my lack of attention to detail that really allowed us to collapse financially. All told I have allowed my household to amass about $60,000 dollars in secured and unsecured debt. Mostly credit cards, but there is the issue of my refinancing my car to pay off bills earlier in the year. Yes, the Vibe that is busted and sitting in my driveway, I don’t own that anymore. The bank does. And the saddest part of all this is that I have spent everything I have, everything, to keep us out of the very mess we are in. I have no credit anymore, no savings anymore, no retirement anymore. All I have is a ton of financial obligations and a little bit of cash. That does not carry a family of seven very well at all.

Of course there were a few victories this year as well. My wife’s struggle with anxiety and depression eased quite a bit toward the end of October, and by year end we were only seeing minor bouts with listlessness, weariness and anxiety. Sandi was able to make it out of the house on her own and by herself for the first time in over a year in November. She is able to attend social gatherings and prepare the children to leave the house. She has been able to do a lot as she recovered. And while there is still significant work ahead of her, and the rest of us as we support her healing, there have been major strides made on her part to get better.

Also this year saw me develop as a man. Yes, I know that sounds weird coming from a 34 year old husband and father of five. But to be honest, I really let go of my masculinity a long time ago and kept it at bay until this year. With the help of a few friends (Greg, Sean, a few others) I was able to see that I was at the helm of a lot of what was happening in my life. If not directly by doing something to invoke than indirectly in doing something to support it (or worse yet, doing nothing to prevent it). All in all, finding my manhood this year was probably my favorite thing about the year. I am still disovering things about me, and I am loving every minute of it.

And lastly, this year I was able to do two things that I have really wanted to do as a programmer: I finally got my Zend PHP 5 certification and I was asked to give a presentation to a local meetup group. Getting my ZCE was not as major a thing as I thought it might be, but dude, I really felt good about myself as a programmer having achieved that. I have not thrown it around much (because really, why would anyone do that?) but just being able to say that I am a ZCE means a lot to me. And being asked to present to a group of peers was another thing that I wanted to do for a while. And this year, thanks to Mr. Tish Wood, I was able to do just that.

I wish I could put more into this post than I did. There were so many things that I could talk about, like the election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States, and the surrounding controversy of his qualifications and background, or the passing of proposition 8 in California, which finally defined marriage recognition by the state as being between a man and a woman. Or I could have mentioned this year marking the 20th anniversary of my mother’s death, something that still rocks me every now and again. There are so many things to talk about. But alas, this is only a blog, and 2008 was an entire year, so I guess it goes without saying that some things just aren’t going to get their props.

Oh well, it was still a good year. It was bad in so many ways, but at the very least it got us out of 2007 and into 2009, which I know will be a much better year. It has to be. The chances of it being worse than 2008 are, well, I really don’t want to think about that right now.

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